Skip Navigation

Select Language

Spark Plug Buying Guide

Powering Your Engine

Found in gas-powered combustion engines, spark plugs perform two key functions in your vehicle’s engine. The main function is to provide the spark to ignite the air/fuel combination and start and run the engine. The spark plug is connected to the ignition coil that generates the voltage necessary to spark the air/fuel mixture and start the combustion that makes your engine run. Spark plugs also draw heat from the combustion chamber, pulling thermal energy away through the core nose and into the shell.

Spark Plug Materials

Most spark plugs feature a copper-core center electrode. Copper is an excellent conductor of electricity and transfers heat faster. However, copper is soft and has a low melting point so manufacturers cover it with metals like nickel alloy, platinum and iridium to reduce the wear caused by high voltage spark. To optimize performance, spark plugs may have a platinum or iridium tip.

The metal channels the high voltage from the spark plug wire through the spark plug so it can spark when it goes across the small gap between the central electrode and the ground electrode. This is the vital spark that starts the combustion process. The use of these metals also helps extend the interval between spark plug changes and decrease the misfire rate.



While almost all spark plugs feature a copper core, many people refer to the common spark plug as a “copper” spark plug. A standard spark plug typically features a nickel-alloy outer material fused to the copper-core electrodes.

Copper spark plugs run cooler and provide more power in performance driving situations. They are often installed as original equipment in turbocharged engines and engines with higher compression ratios. Copper spark plugs are also often used in older (pre-1980s) vehicles with a distributor-based ignition system.



Platinum is much harder than nickel alloy, slowing erosion much longer than a conventional spark plug. This longevity is a key advantage of platinum spark plugs. Another advantage of platinum spark plugs is that they run a little hotter, which burns deposits off the spark plug more efficiently and helps prevent fouling. This enables the spark plug to wear better.

Platinum spark plugs come in two varieties - single and double platinum. A single platinum plug is much like a copper spark plug with a platinum disc welded to the center electrode; a double platinum spark plug has a platinum disc on both the center and side electrodes.



Iridium is said to be six times harder and eight times stronger than platinum with a 700° higher melting point. Iridium spark plugs have extremely fine electrodes while retaining excellent wear characteristics. Thanks to this strength, iridium spark plugs can last up to 25% longer than comparable platinum spark plugs.

Iridium spark plugs feature a fine wire center electrode that is designed to conduct electrical energy better and increase firing efficiency. There is a price for this precious metal; iridium spark plugs are typically more expensive than copper and platinum spark plugs.

Champion® Your Engine


As a world leader in spark plug manufacturing since 1907, Champion knows what it takes to keep your engine running at its best. From passenger and performance vehicles to powersport, marine, industrial and small engines, Champion has a spark plug for your application. When it’s time to replace your plugs, ‘Champion’ your engine with spark plugs that help improve performance and reduce wear and tear.


Champion Copper Plus®

Tried and true, Champion Copper Plus spark plugs deliver dependable performance and durability for your vehicle or lawn and garden small engine.


Champion Platinum Power™

Featuring a platinum center electrode for long life, Champion Platinum Power spark plugs are an excellent choice as an upgrade for vehicles originally equipped with nickel/copper technology.


Champion Double Platinum Power™

With platinum on both the center and ground electrodes, Champion Double Platinum Power spark plugs deliver longer life.


Champion Iridium

Featuring an iridium center electrode to resist wear, Champion Iridium spark plugs deliver maximum performance regardless of engine or ignition type.


Champion Premium

Designed for small engines, Champion Premium spark plugs feature a fine-wire center electrode that creates a sharp-focused spark for faster, more consistent starting.


Champion Performance

Engineered to perform under pressure, Champion racing spark plugs for stock car engines and NHRA engines are designed for the unique needs of the track.

Which Champion Spark Plug is Right for Me?

  Copper Plus Platinum Double Platinum
Iridium Premium
Lawn &
Stock Car NHRA
Automotive X X X X      
Performance           X X
Powersport X X X        
Lawn & Garden X       X    
Industrial X X X X      
Marine X X X X      


To find the recommended spark plugs for your vehicle or machine, check your owner’s manual. If your owner’s manual specifies iridium spark plugs, don’t downgrade to platinum spark plugs or copper spark plugs; if you downgrade, you run the risk of poor engine performance. You can also consult your mechanic for guidance on selecting the best spark plug for your car.

Learn more about quality spark plugs, find your part, or find where to buy your part today.

The content contained in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be used in lieu of seeking professional advice from a certified technician or mechanic. We encourage you to consult with a certified technician or mechanic if you have specific questions or concerns relating to any of the topics covered herein. Under no circumstances will we be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on any content.



Related Stories